Self Examination

I really had to have some coffee this morning. I guess I slept okay, but I had dreams that wore me out. I hate it when I have dreams like that. I had a dream I was traveling across Alaska. I wake up exhausted.

Then, I need coffee. Coffee. I even like the term as comes out of my mouth. Coffee. Say, "Wanna get some coffee?" out loud. It just sounds appealing, doesn't it? I know that only about 30% of you actually said it out loud. That's okay. The rest of you think you are too cool to say it out loud. Well, you're not. ;)

I don't want to get too far off the track about self examination. Last week there was a great tragedy in the country. I resisted writing about Virgina Tech because I didn't feel I really had much to add. What was left to say that hadn't already been said? I found out that maybe there were other reasons for my blog silence concerning it. At church yesterday we were supposed to start a new series about Evolution and Creation. We didn't. The minister spent the whole time on Virgina Tech and how we should deal with it.

The crux of it was that we should mourn with those that are mourning. The pastor was emotional during the service as he reminded us that Jesus, although He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, was so touched by Lazarus' family and friends' grief, that He cried with them. We should have a heart so tender.

A ton of people at church became emotional as we relived the tragedy. Not me. I am ashamed to admit it, but when I heard about the shooting, I was more curious than touched. Sure, I was sad for that community, but it didn't cause me to mourn. Neither did the church service about it cause me to get upset like many others there.

I am not sure why I wasn't more touched. Perhaps it is the nature of my job. People come to me everyday and tell me how they lost their job unfairly. To these people, it is their whole life and livlihood that is lost. For me, if I am not careful, it is just another case number. I literally pray everyday for the compassion to come out when I meet with these clients. Thankfully, God helps me to find that empathy. I shudder to think how it would be without this kind of communion with God.

Now, because of my experience at church, I add to that daily prayer, "God please do not allow my heart to harden, not only for my clients, but for my fellow man."


Anonymous said...

Sadly, I feel the same way. Sometimes I think I am too cynical by half. Instead of reacting in shock and horror, I pretty much went "Same ole, same ole." My opinion of the great mass of my fellow man is so low at this point that I don't think anything shocks me anymore....

Emily Suess said...

I felt this way too at first, and I think it's natural. Sometimes we just don't get things that aren't personal. It wasn't until I learned that my cousin goes to VT and lives on campus, that I was able to pause a brief moment to consider what she must be going through. Although she is safe, a close friend of hers was shot three times in the leg. The world is just so horrible sometimes. I think a lot of us enter survival mode--we remove ourselves from the experience because if we had to feel every hurt we'd implode.

Knock knock - it's cancer! said...

Jeff you know what? I think this is the first post that I've read from you that had me moved to tears. I feel shivers all down my spine. I too feel the same. Isn't it awful? But I don't think that it's that I don't feel sad for my fellow man. I think I don't understand it. How that can happen.

I feel (and get incredibly sad and upset) when there's a small child hurt (by accident or on purpose) I wonder if that's because I have smaller children, and therefor just relate better to that?

By the way, what's this about a second blog I hear? When / where?
Do tell, do tell...people are starting to talk you know!

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm going to have to join the chorus... I was not overly saddened OR shocked by the VT thing. This kind of thing is becoming far too commonplace.

Cathy said...

Well I count be counted among your numbers here. I thought it was a horrible, senseless tragedy, but I kept myself too far removed from it to be able to say I mourned. I hadn't even thought about it in that way until I read this post and now I feel ashamed for it.. as I should.

Really good post Jeff.. the title was very fitting because that is indeed what it caused me to do.

chosha said...

I think sometimes that kind of detachment is useful for people who deal with the same stuff all the time, or they would become so overwhelmed and depressed. It's true though, that to lose your sense of empathy altogether would be just as dangerous.

I'm just not sure that detachment is always a sign of lacking empathy. I feel for the people affected by the VT shooting, but I also feel like mourning would be almost inappropriate, as if I was somehow seeing myself as being as affected by this shooting as they were. And I wasn't.

It's hard to know exactly what is the right way. I mean, yes, Jesus wept for Lazerus' family's grief, but it wasn't quite the same as feeling empathy for a stranger's plight; he was good friends with that family. I have a friend who literally weeps over tragedies she hears about in the news. But to be honest I sometimes feel like that has more to do with her WANTING to be a deeply empathic person, than to do with her actually being one.

Jeff said...

Anne: It isn't the shock, but the loss. Empathy.

Hands: Maybe that's it, survival. I think it would behoove us to learn to survive while still engaging rather than to just disengage.

Mermaid: You get it. That's great. You know, I have been guilty about getting all worked up over an animal (dog, horse, etc.) dying over my fellow man. I don't think I need to think less about animals, just more about people.

As far as my second blog, I am getting more and more motivated to work on it so stay tuned if you are really interested in that type of blog.

Sayre: It wasn't personal enough for you.

Groovy: I think the self examination stuff is all I can ask here. That is still where I am on it.

Chosa: It is an interesting point you make. I think, for me, that the closeness shouldn't be an issue. I am reminded about the conversation Jesus had that led to the "Good Samaritan" parable. He was asked about who is our neighbor. The answer, He implied, was all of us.

Still, the overly emotional by-stander (especially when it is forced), is probably as bad as distant concern.